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Games Maker Arkadium Taps Microsoft as Teammate—Crain’s New York

By Emily Laermer

Hot shop Arkadium enters a “strategic partnership” with the software and media giant to expand game offerings and audiences well beyond its current 10 million viewers per month.

New York City-based game developer Arkadium has found itself quite the teammate, partnering with Microsoft Studio to develop multi-platform games and expand its staff.

Arkadium President Jessica Rovello would not disclose the names of the games or platforms that would be involved in what she called a “strategic partnership” with Microsoft. But she said the games would all be “casual games” geared toward adults. This category includes games like solitaire, mahjongg and crossword puzzles, and is Arkadium's specialty. She also said the Microsoft partnership will include a combination of repurposed and new games.

“We want to get our games in front of the widest possible audience,” said Ms. Rovello, a Crain's 40 Under 40 in 2010. “This is a huge opportunity for us to stay competitive with other businesses.”

The partnership aims to increase the number of Arkadium game viewers; the company's current network is about 10 million viewers per month.

“Our team is excited to be partnering with a developer that we believe will help us entertain millions of people as we expand our reach to a broader audience,” Matt Booty, general manager of connected experiences for Microsoft Studio, said in a statement.

To support the new partnership, Arkadium will create a new division and plans to hire 15 to 20 employees in its offices in New York, Ukraine and Toronto. The Toronto office opened last summer and caters exclusively to mobile games. Some of Arkadium's current 130 employees will also be shifted to the division that will deal with the partnership. Ms. Rovello expects the team will grow to about 30.

Though Arkadium has partnered with big names like Sony and ESPN, this deal is one of its most significant in the company's 10-year lifespan, Ms. Rovello insisted. “We work with a lot of large brands and a lot of companies, and we create gaming portals for them, but this is such a big deal for us because it's a strategic partnership rather than a business development deal, like we've done in the past,” she said. She would not disclose additional details or terms of the deal.

Arkadium has been working with Microsoft for two years, providing games to MSN Zone, Bing and its messenger service. It is currently Microsoft's largest provider of casual gaming. In the first quarter of fiscal year 2012, Microsoft Corp. posted revenue of $17.37 billion.